The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (ABD) has introduced a new website that’s designed to allow you to get a better handle on the amount of alcohol in all types of drinks. ABD spokesperson, Tonya Dusold, says the CALCohol site works in two ways.
“First you can use it calculate servings per container by putting in either your alcohol by volume or the proof and the container size,” Dusold says. “So what that would do, a consumer could understand that a 12-percent malt beverage in a 24 ounce single-serve pop top actually contains nearly five servings of alcohol.”
Or you can enter the percentage of alcohol or proof, and it will tell you the serving size for any alcoholic beverage. “One example that will work for is if you have a 30-proof liqueur, a serving is actually four ounces. But if you are drinking 120-proof aged whiskey, the serving would only be one ounce, even though those both are traditionally in the spirits category,” Dusold says.
Companies now produce alcoholic beverages in numerous sizes and flavors, which can make it confusing when trying to figure out how much alcohol you’re drinking. Dusold says that’s one of the reasons they developed the CALCohol site. “You have flavored vodkas for example that might be 60-proof, where traditional vodka is 80-proof. But there are flavored vodkas out there that are 100-proof,” she explains.
“So serving sizes of each one of those products while they may seem the same on the surface, is different. The consumer should know that and be able to hopefully monitor that and know how much they are really taking in.” It’s not just a problem for those who drink spirits or hard liquor.
“Traditionally beer was five-percent or less alcohol typically. Now they’re out there, the craft brews and some of the specialty ones that might be 12, 15, 20-percent and need to be consumed on more of serving size of a wine or spirit,” Dusold says. “Somebody sits down and thinks ‘oh I’m having a beer,’ well that beer might have four or five servings of alcohol in a single glass.”
Dusold says the CALCohol site allows you to check on what you’re drinking no matter where you are. She says it built to be used on your smart phone or your tablet but you can access it on your personal computer. “It’s extremely simple. Go to IowaADB.com/CALCohol and you can input one or both of the fields that calculate and it’ll pop up and tell you how many servings are in a container, or what the serving size would be.”
ABD partnered with Iowa Interactive — the company that designs many state websites — to design and build the mobile site. The National Alcoholic Beverages Control Association (NABCA) also helped with the content and support of the site.